Definition of old in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ōld/

adjective (older, oldest)

See also elder1, eldest.
1Having lived for a long time; no longer young: the old man lay propped up on cushions
More example sentences
  • The majority of those left behind are too young, old or sick to travel far.
  • The setting for the film is a beautiful temple on a secluded lake where an old monk and his young charge live.
  • Now we want all residents, young and old, to select a project in their neighbourhood and make a local improvement.
elderly, aged, older, senior, advanced in years, up in years;
in one's dotage, long in the tooth, gray-haired, grizzled, hoary;
past one's prime, not as young as one was, ancient, decrepit, doddering, doddery, not long for this world, senescent, senile, superannuated
informal getting on, past it, over the hill, no spring chicken
1.1Made or built long ago: the old quarter of the town
More example sentences
  • It's built out of an old palace which has some of the most beautiful Buddhist art I've ever seen.
  • The new gravel road has been built parallel to the old tarmac Gun Park Road
  • Hidden in a narrow alley of the old quarter of Nice, one discovered it by chance or word-of-mouth.
dilapidated, broken-down, beat-up, run-down, tumbledown, ramshackle, decaying, crumbling, disintegrating
1.2Possessed or used for a long time: he gave his old clothes away
More example sentences
  • A number of houses have been given a box to collect glass, cans and old clothes
  • All artwork created by the kids can be taken home that day and children are advised to wear old clothes.
  • I wear moonboots from the boutique; a hut where you drop off old clothes and pick up whatever you need.
worn, worn out, shabby, threadbare, holey, torn, frayed, patched, tattered, moth-eaten, ragged;
old-fashioned, out of date, outmoded, démodé;
castoff, hand-me-down
informal tatty
antique, historic, vintage, classic;
1.3Having the characteristics or showing the signs of age: marble now so old that it has turned gray and chipped
More example sentences
  • The strings are so old they sound like dusty clothes lines that are grossly out of tune.
  • She stared at the patch of old wallpaper: huge pink and red roses, gaudy, sentimental.
1.4 informal, chiefly US Boring or tiresome, especially as a result of repetition or overfamiliarity: I wish she’d shut up—it’s getting old
More example sentences
  • There are a few humorous moments among the outtakes, though otherwise they get old pretty quickly.
  • The studios keep making this genre of film, and people still go and see them, but they're getting old fast.
  • Does the "nerd" thing ever get old?
2 [attributive] Belonging only or chiefly to the past; former or previous: valuation under the old rating system was inexact
More example sentences
  • I got to know a little bit about it, at least the old Berlin of the past, through Benjamin's eyes.
  • One of its campaigns is an attack on asylum seekers, which recycles a old leaflet used in past BNP campaigns.
  • Today's feelings were sparked by me walking past my old primary school yesterday for the first time in ages.
2.1Used to refer to the first of two or more similar things: I was going to try to get my old job back
More example sentences
  • Now Volvo has taken the concept even further with the launch of a stunning new V70 estate to replace the old model.
  • Before the wedding the kitchen was renovated and an electric stove was put in to replace the old coal range.
  • Fred was sitting close by, working on replacing old laces with fresh ones on greenhide pack bags.
former, previous, ex-, one-time, erstwhile, once, then
formal quondam
2.2Dating from far back; long-established or known: we greet each other like old friends I get sick of the same old routine
More example sentences
  • How many times do we need to see the same old arguments made and the same sources quoted?
  • These aren't the same old depressing allegations, no, this time the allegations are red hot!
  • You can resolve the same old problem with a new approach and make a breakthrough.
hackneyed, hack, banal, trite, overused, overworked, tired, worn out, stale, clichéd, platitudinous, unimaginative, pedestrian, stock, conventional;
out of date, outdated, old-fashioned, outmoded, archaic, obsolete, antiquated, hoary
informal old hat, corny, played out
time-honored, old-time, long-established, age-old;
familiar, established;
customary, usual, routine, habitual;
historic, folk, ancestral, old-world
2.3(Of a form of a language) as used in former or earliest times.
Example sentences
  • This describes perfectly his career as a philologist and his passion for old languages.
  • There are 114 chapters in the Qur'an, which is written in the old Arabic dialect.
  • They are given in the book in the form of old Irish writing, new Irish writing and English.
3 [in combination] Of a specified age: he was fourteen years old a seven-month-old baby
3.1 [as nounin combination] A person or animal of the age specified: a nineteen-year-old
4 [attributive] informal Used to express affection, familiarity, or contempt: it gets the old adrenaline going Good old Mom,” she said
More example sentences
  • I really fancy my guests having a right good old toast to my memory.
  • Get rid of the new-labour new-tory dictatorships and let's have good old democracy back again!
  • So, for this event, I cooked from just regular vegetables and good old ingredients.


Where two, and no more, are involved, they may be older and younger: the older of the twins, by ten minutes, is Sam; the younger is Pamela. Where there are more than two, one may be the oldest or youngest: I have four siblings, of whom Jane is the oldest. See also former1 and latter.



any old

Any item of a specified type (used to show that no particular or special individual is in question): any old room would have done
More example sentences
  • It's so simple that any old sailor and any old journalist can litigate it in less than two minutes.
  • This wasn't just any old fad, though, but one which has dominated western eating habits for almost the last eight years.
  • People are saying they don't want any old tat, they want to find quality and they want to find a bargain, that is special and unique.

any old way

In no particular order: they’ve dropped things just any old way

as old as the hills

Of very long standing or very great age (often used in exaggerated statements).
Example sentences
  • What's going on is not exceptional… it's a story as old as the hills and a lot older than the Internet.
  • Some of the reasons for this are as old as the hills.
  • Feeling as old as the hills, I get my coat and leave.

be old enough to be someone's father (or mother)

informal Of a much greater age than someone (especially used to suggest that a romantic or sexual relationship between the people concerned is inappropriate).
Example sentences
  • Cat calmly turned around and looked at the trucker, he was old enough to be her father and big enough to crush her with one fist.
  • It was another of John's meaningless sexual encounters, and this one with a woman old enough to be his mother.
  • You're darling, but you should be chatting up other 21-year-olds instead of someone who's old enough to be your mother.

for old times' sake

see sake1.

of old

1In or belonging to the past: he was more reticent than of old
More example sentences
  • Every Tuesday night, people ramble in for the music and chat and to see the cottage as in days of old.
  • In days of old, High Sheriffs had the authority to raise an army and even order executions of convicts.
  • After this year, the tatty old displays of old just won't be good enough.
2Starting long ago; for a long time: they knew him of old

the old days

A period in the past, often seen as significantly different from the present, especially noticeably better or worse: it was easier in the old days we are less confident than in the good old days the bad old days of incoherence and irresponsibility
More example sentences
  • In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.
  • It wasn't like this in the old days: they cared so much about the art they had riots and everything.
  • Molly had some great memories of the old days to recall and share with family and friends.



Pronunciation: /ˈōldiSH/
Example sentences
  • An oldish couple approached the crossing as I was aiming my camera.
  • You can see the Assistant website here, listen to some oldish but goodish demos here, and find out about the next gig here, too, when we know about it.
  • It's an oldish building, but it's nice, fairly weathertight, and fits my needs.


Example sentences
  • At 103 years of age, though, Mr. Murray described him as frail by oldness.
  • His opponents on the ultra-left demand we save our party from newness and demand a return to an oldness that never really existed anyway.
  • I just like the atmosphere inside churches, and the oldness of them.


Old English ald; related to Dutch oud and German alt, from an Indo-European root meaning 'grown-up, adult', shared by Latin alere 'nourish'.

  • This word shares an ancient root with Latin alere ‘to nourish’, which links it with alimony. The old boy network providing mutual assistance (and often career advancement) among people from the same social and educational background goes back to the 1950s. Members of such a group might well refer to ideas of group loyalty and tradition in terms of the old school tie—values seen as associated with wearing the tie of a particular public school. The first writers to use this phrase were those astute social commentators Rudyard Kipling and George Orwell in the 1930s. An old wives' tale is a widely held traditional belief now thought to be unscientific or incorrect. This phrase, with its earlier variant an old wives' fable, has been part of the language since the 16th century. It is first found in William Tyndale's translation of the Bible, where the faithful are instructed to ‘cast away’ such stories. Some behaviour becomes inappropriate as you get older, and there is a risk for some of being considered a dirty old man. First recorded in the 1930s, the phrase was Harold Steptoe's familiar rebuke to his father in the TV comedy Steptoe and Son (1962–74).

Words that rhyme with old

behold, bold, cold, enfold, fold, foretold, gold, hold, mould (US mold), outsold, scold, self-controlled, sold, told, uncontrolled, undersold, unpolled, uphold, withhold, wold

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: old

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.